Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We're doing a happy dance here.  Why?  We have flowers - YAY!  The first crocus of the season is happily blooming and the second one is close. 

Typically, a yellow crocus is the first but this year the lavender one wins.  We also have hellebores blooming like crazy.  I'd never had one before and am loving this guy.  I have room for a couple more so will hunt for a couple I like this summer. 

We've also got tons of daffodils with buds.  The hyacinths and tulips have loads of leaves up.  And the daylilies, rhubarb and peonies are just now starting to pop up.  Wow.  I love spring!!!  Hopefully this weekend we'll have an opportunity to go dig in the yard a bit. Well, that is if the weather cooperates...  I'm reading that it's supposed to drop below freezing again on Sunday and I've got appointments all day on Saturday.  So, probably Connie'll get to dig and I won't :-( 

Back to food...  My friend Christiane at Taking on Magazines posted a blog about a stroganoff recipe from Fine Cooking. Boy oh boy did that bring back memories. When I was a kid, Mom used to make Nikki's Beef Stroganoff. It's very good and very quick.

Then, when I was working at Indiana National Bank one of my colleagues gave me her recipe for beef stroganoff. It also has ground beef in it but is made with consomme rather than tomato soup. Along the way my "other mother's" (aka my high school best friend's mom) stroganoff came along. It's got dill and ripe olives and waterchestnuts and is amazing. Finally, back in 1994 a date fixed me stroganoff made with steak. Yummmmm!

Over the years I've tried probably a dozen more stroganoff recipes. And, I've loved them all.  I've narrowed down my favorite to one made with consomme.  So, here I am with a huge package of stew beef to make Lou's Barbecue Beef. And, Christiane posts her blog. I've just got to try this.  I held back about a pound of the better pieces of stew beef.  It's better on the budget than steak but doesn't tend to be as tender.  After teaching my Social Security class way west in Danville, I finally got home at 7:30.  My desire to follow a new recipe had waned.  I wanted MY stroganoff.  I read Christiane's recipe and it was pretty darned close to my recipe.  She used beef broth, I used consomme.  I added more mushrooms and onion.  And, I used lowfat sour cream.  We did miss the steak but our wallets were happier!  One interesting note here...  Fine Cooking does a segment where they have a chef prepare a classic preparation then have a different chef create one with a twist.  Christiane's version was the classic.


1 lb steak or stew beef
1 medium onion
12 oz mushrooms
2 T olive oil
1 T chopped garlic
1 can consomme
1 T red wine
1 T flour
1 c light sour cream


Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a medium saucepan.  Add the sliced onions. 

Pour 1 T olive oil in a large saucepan.  When it is sizzling hot, add the beef.  Try not to let the pieces touch or they'll steam rather than brown. 

When the beef is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside.  Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan.  When the mushrooms are almost cooked and the onions are just starting to brown,

add the garlic to the onions.  If it's added too early, it'll burn.  After the garlic has cooked for about a minute, sprinkle the flour over the onions stir it in and allow it to cook for about a minute.  Pour in the consomme and red wine and stir well.  When the onion mixture has thickened a bit, add it to the skillet with the mushrooms.  Add the beef and the sour cream and stir well. 

Serve over wide egg noodles.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mai Tai

It’s Sunday! For Connie and me, it’s hard to tell whether it is the beginning or end of the week. When you work every day, the difference is no one calls you on Sunday, other than that, same routine. Wake up with the one you love, feed the furry critters, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. However, we have added the cocktail hour to Sunday. We are so civilized!

Connie went hunting for a recipe tonight and instead of diving into something new, he said he was looking for a 5 star, one that we’ve tried before and topped the 1 – 5 rating. He came up with a Mai Tai. His recipe book says that in Tahitian, mai tai roughly translates to “out of this world”. Connie says that he has always seen it translated as “the best”. One way or another, the translation is correct. This is truly a 5 star drink.

Many of us may have fond “date” memories of a Mai Tai. Many Chinese restaurants used to serve a Mai Tai in a big goblet with straws for two. I remember some of those, the Scorpion Bowl, the Rum Runner. One drink. Two called for a cab.  I guess that rather dates me doesn't it???  Oh, well, I earned these grey hairs for a reason :-)

As good as this is, the preparation is not really for the faint of heart. While it is straight forward enough, it is not that quick to make. It kind of feels like clean out the bar for two. I guess for a professional bartender, where the bottles are all at hand and mixes are already there, it’s not so bad. Regardless, I encourage you to dive right in. Give it a shot.  This is one of those drinks to savor slowly because it can whup you upside the head if you're not careful.So here is the recipe that Connie made for us tonight. It comes from shaken by Jane Lawson.

Mai Tai
(for two)


Crushed ice
2 oz white rum (we use Bacardi’s)
2 oz dark rum (we use Myer’s)
1 oz Cointreau (we substitute Grand Marnier)
1 oz amaretto (we use DiSaronno)
1 oz lemon juice (freshly squeezed, please)
6 oz pineapple juice (we use Dole’s)
6 oz orange juice (we use Minute Maid frozen concentrate, undiluted)
1 oz sugar syrup (2:1, see our recipe)
Dash of grenadine (we use Rose’s)
Lime slices
Mint leaves (we omitted it this time because it is winter in Indiana)

Half fill two large goblets with crushed ice. Add all of the ingredients except the lime and mint. Stir, garnish with the lime and mint, toast the one you love, and enjoy.

One note. This is a fairly rich drink, especially with the undiluted orange concentrate. If it is too rich, please consider backing off on the OJ. On the other hand, I have cooked that way forever. I convinced Connie, who grew up on frozen OJ, 3 cans of water to 1 frozen concentrate, to do it this way. Every once in awhile we wind up with too much orange flavor but that's rare...

Dinner Misadventures

Connie and I are trying to lose some weight.  We're working out regularly with our Kinect.  We've cut back on our calories.  All the right things.  Saturday night we found another way to cut down on calories:  Go out for a dinner that is so horrible it's inedible. 

Our friends, Joe and Susan (remember them from our Mardi Gras party?) had a $25 off gift certificate to The Villa.  They'd not been there in years and suggested we go with them.  Game on.  Susan was our designated driver.  (Thank you, Susan!)  On our arrival at The Villa we were a bit concerned because the parking lot was virtually empty.  We were greeted at the front desk and told if we were dining to go on upstairs.  At the door to the dining room we were greeted and shown to our table.  There was one other occupied table - with one couple.  Not a good sign.

After a tour of the facility - it's also a spa - we were seated.  Each place setting had a small plate with olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar.  A nice touch.  The menu looked pretty promising.  Appetizers included an antipasto plate and a couple of bruschetta.  Salads included a house, a caesar and one with fruit.  Entrees included chicken marsala, chicken piccata, some pastas and a steak.  Connie and I had decided we'd split an appetizer, a salad and an entree.  I selected a wine and it arrived at the table.  Hmmm, nobody really knew how to serve wine.  I was given a taste - rather awkwardly but still given one.  Then, all three of our glasses were lined up on the corner of the table and poured.  Ok, now, that's interesting.  While the wine was being poured, we ate some of the bread.  It was passable but just barely. 

Our appetizer arrived when Joe and Susan's salad arrived.  We'd ordered the antipasto plate.  It had three spears of asparagus, a pile of steamed broccoli, four bites of fresh mozzarella, three rolls of proscuitto and some salami.  Brown salami.  Since Connie and I weren't given individual plates for our appetizer, I proceeded to serve mine on my bread plate.  There was still a bit of olive oil there.  I ate a bite of the salami and thought it tasted off.  I asked Connie if he'd tried it and he said it was fine.  Ok, it must've been the olive oil flavor with the salami.  I took another bite.  Nope, it didn't taste right.  I picked it up and smelled it and it smelled of old socks.  Susan concurred.  Our waitress took it back and said it'd be taken off our bill.  Then, she came out and said the chef had said it was just oxidized.  Nope, we said, it's bad and shouldn't be served. 

Well, now, maybe our entrees would be better.  A chicken caesar salad and chicken piccata arived.  I said we'd ordered the side caesar, not the chicken.  Back it went.  Shortly a side caesar arrived.  With the most awful dressing I have ever had in my life.  I can't really say what it tasted like but I can say I hope I never taste anything like that again.  It had croutons alongside.  VERY stale bread that'd been kind of baked.  They would hurt if you threw them at someone.  I spit mine out.  Joe had also gotten the chicken piccata.  Susan had the chicken marsala.  Connie took our entree and split it.  I had very little sauce on my plate.  What sauce I had was brown.  Being a cook and a foodie I know good and well that piccata is lemon.  That means the sauce is yellow.  Not brown.  Turned out the sauce tasted like very salty balsamic vinegar.  It too was dreadful.  Joe finally said something.  Connie and I concurred. 

We sat at the table and debated.  Do we just pay our bill and leave and tell everyone we know to NEVER go to The Villa?  Or, do we do the right thing and tell the chef how incredibly disappointed we were?  The four of us feel very strongly about supporting our local restaurants.  We avoid chains.  We get to know the folks at our favorite restaurants.  Joe actually owned seven restaurants 25-30 years ago.  The decision was made.  We'd have a chat with the chef.  We asked our server if we could do so.  Out of the bar comes the young lady who'd seated us and opened our wine.  Umm, you're the chef?  Yes, she says.  So, who was actually doing the cooking tonight?  A helper she says.  At this point we realize we really need to be communicating with the general manager.

A young man - maybe 25 - shows up at our table.  We tell him our food was terrible.  We go through the problems one by one.  Spoiled salami, horrid salad dressing, croutons that'd hurt you if you got one thrown at you, sauce that's not piccata...  He asks what we want him to do.  I suggest he fire the chef and find someone who can cook.  He proceeds to rant and tell us that people compliment him all the time on the food and she's from Disney World (ticket taker maybe?) and she's the best chef he's had.  Whew!  Talk about defensive.  Then, he proceeds to tell us he's going to comp our meals - except for the wine - on the condition that we never come back.  Hello?????  Does this sound like anyone who actually knows how to manage a restaurant?  They've served us an abysmal meal and now he's telling us to never come back?  Not a problem.  We'll not only never come back we're going to tell everyone we know and post our displeasure on Trip Advisor, Facebook, here etc. 

Connie started chatting with the couple at the next table and found they were equally unhappy.  But, they'd paid so they decided not to ask for their money back.  They did join us at our table while we finished our wine.  We had a delightful time chatting with them about Taste of the NFL, Dig-IN and other foodie things.  They left shortly before we did.   

The best was yet to come.  On our way out the general manager - heretofore known as the little twit - was sitting at the front desk with another employee.  I asked her who owns the place.  She was handing me the gal's business card and he started shouting that he'd already called her and told her how horrid we were and we weren't welcome back.  He proceeds to say that he recognizes Joe from when he was a flight attendant and Joe wouldn't buckle his seat belt and threw trash on his floor.  The funny thing is that Joe has flown maybe three times in the last ten years and he's never created a ruckus on a plane.  So, there was no way that was true.  Susan and I had already walked out the front door and were holding it open for Joe and Connie who were still inside looking at something.  The little twit started yelling at them telling them to get out of his restaurant.  They left and I gave the front door a VERY good slam.  Then, the little twit comes outside and starts yelling at us for being rude.  Well now, he was just about the most incredibly rude person I've ever met.  And the only rude thing I did was slam the door... 

Add up spoiled or inedible food and a general manager who obviously needs to find a position NOT involving customer service and all I can say is DON'T go there!  I'm sure the Three Stooges would have the perfect line about getting told not to come back but I've never had it happen to me so I'm at a loss...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clean up the Kitchen for Two

Sometimes our menu is dictated by what needs to be finished up.  We'd had leftover pork tenderloin on salads for lunch.  But the other pork tenderloin was sitting in the fridge and needed to be used up.  So, that became the basis for dinner.  Connie loves pears.  I'd bought four and they were ripe.  Another addition to dinner.  Along with the pork and pears I was thinking couscous.  There was a container of chopped green onions.  And, a jar of tahini that needs to be used.  A great addition to couscous. 

Here's what I was thinking...  We have a fantastic recipe for pork tenderloin.  It's marinated in a mixture of whiskey, brown sugar and soy sauce.  It's beyond fantastic.  What if I switched a couple of the ingredients just a little bit and used Hangar One Spiced Pear and Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce with the brown sugar?  We did a taste test beforehand.  I mixed about a tablespoon of the proposed marinade and took a little sip.  Wow.  Lot's of alcohol.  Connie took a swig.  Sputter, cough.  "Oh, that'll do."  Really?  You about choked on that?  Yeah, I know but it'll be fine.  So, I mixed the marinade and in went the pork tenderloin.

Down to the basement to the Kinect.  I have once agained realized why I HATE the game of golf.  It is boring.  No, it is BORING.  After playing RallyBall we switched to the Sports disk.  And, I said let's play golf since we've not played that yet.  Last time for me.  UGH!  No wonder I quit playing the stooooopid game about 1977!!!!  We started with the three hole game and I left at the end of two.  Mind you, we were tied but I had had more than enough.  Ok, fine.  You get the message.  I don't like golf.  Fortunately, I do like cooking.

Next up was brown rice to mix with a chopped red onion and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and Trader Joe's Cuban Style Black Beans.  That's for lunch tomorrow.  Then, I started assembling the couscous ingredients.  Finally, the pork and the pears went on the grill.  

What did we think?  Grand Slam.  We rarely give out five's.  And I only remember one other time we've given every dish a five.  This was truly a grand slam.  Not only was it super easy and pretty darned low cal, but it was also VERY good.

Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pears and Mediterranean Couscous

for the pork:

1 pork tenderloin (actually two will fit in the marinade if you so desire)
1/4 c Hangar One
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
1 Bosc pear (Connie's favorite - use whatever you like best)

for the couscous:
1 c water
1 c uncooked couscous
1 T tahini sauce
1/2 can chickpeas
feta cheese
1 c diced carrots, cooked
1/2 c diced green onions


Mix the marinade ingredients and pour the mixture into a gallon storage bag.  Add the pork tenderloin, seal the bag and leave it on the counter for at least 30 minutes while you assemble the couscous ingredients.  Put a cup of water in a large saucepan and put it on a burner.  Don't turn the burner on yet, just get this ready to go.  Then, measure out a cup of dried couscous and set it aside.  Dice the carrots and cook them until very tender.  Crumble the feta cheese and set it aside with the green onions.  Open and rinse the can of chickpeas.  Set out the jar of tahini and a tablespoon measure.  Ok, you are now ready to assemble the couscous once the pork is cooked.  It'll cook in five minutes and you can assemble the dish in about three so it's perfect to do while the pork rests after coming off the grill.  Last but not least, you need to wash and halve and core your pear. 

Once your pork is up to room temp and marinated, it's time to grill it.  We like ours pretty pink in the center so rarely grill it past 130 since I know the temp usually goes up about 10 degrees after it comes off the heat.  I'd actually prefer to take it off the grill at 125 but on occasion the grillmeister gets preoccupied and doesn't pay enough attention.  cough, cough, cough.  While the pork is grilling, put the pears on the grill cut side down.  You'll either get lovely grill marks or slightly blackened pears.  That depends on whether you remember to remove the pears from direct heat and move them to indirect or not.  Your choice.

Turn the heat under the pan with a cup of water to high.  Now, take your pork and pears off the grill and put them on a nice carving board and tent it and set it aside while you cook the couscous.  The water should be boiling right about now.  Remove the pan from the heat, dump the couscous in, stir it well, cover it and set it aside for five minutes.   Tick tock, tick tock.  Take a sip of wine.  Make sure the candles are lit and the table is set.  Ok, it should be ready to be assembled.  Stir the couscous again.  Add the tahini and stir it well.  Then add the other ingredients and stir them in gently.  Slice the pork and serve the pear and couscous.  We loved a bottle of Due Uve with this.  It's a mix of pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wendy's Burgers

Do you remember when you were a kid and you woke up on Christmas morning and you knew you'd find something wonderful under the tree?  That's how I felt when I opened my email from Angela at the Secret Recipe Club and found I'd been assigned Wendy's blog. The Weekend Gourmet.  I've never been a regular reader of Wendy's but have enjoyed her blog when I've checked it out.  Now, I do believe I'll be a regular reader.  She's got a lovely style and is one of those folks I'd just love to meet.  Choosing was tough.  I narrowed the choices down to four recipes.  I was thinking I'd do an appetizer for the Super Bowl.  Something that could be split in half since Connie would be rooting for his Patriots in the living room and I'd be rooting for Eli in the family room.  Then, I got the flu.  Cooking wasn't happening.  Fine, I'd choose something else.  The next set of choices was narrowed down to three.  Decisions, decisions.  Ok, I'd make the hamburger.

What did we think?  The burger was fabulous.  Moist, flavorful.  I loved the little kick from the cajun seasoning.  The onions?  A bit too sweet for our taste.  I'd cut the maple syrup way down and increase the white wine.  We tend not to like sweet things so I wasn't surprised at our reaction.  So, here's the deal:  If you like sweet things, make the recipe as written.  If you're more of a savory foodie, decrease the  maple syrup to 1-2 T and increase the white wine commensurately. I made a couple of tweaks along the way.  Instead of using ground steak seasoning, I used Andria's Steak Sauce.  It has less salt and really moistens the burgers.  And, for the onions I cut the butter to one tablespoon from two.  Just cutting out 100 calories!  Now, the really good news?  Connie plays bridge one evening a week.  This recipe makes three burgers.  One burger is in the freezer awaiting his next bridge evening.  It's mine.  All mine :-)

A couple of housekeeping notes here... The Secret Recipe Club is a group of bloggers who are assigned a blog on a monthly basis.  We're to visit that blog and choose a recipe to make.  Then, on our assigned Monday we blog about it.  Now, I've gotten REALLY lucky on my assignments.  I've met some wonderful bloggers and tried some incredible recipes.  My mouth is watering thinking about a few of them.  And, the best news?  Every Monday a group of bloggers has their reveal date.  You can go to Secret Recipe Club and check out the blogs.  It's typically the best collection of recipes I see. 

Last, but not least, THANK YOU Wendy!!  I can't wait to try your most recent post - potato pancakes with cheddar.  And, I'm still going to make that clafouti and hopefully the lemon blueberry rolls.  And, about a dozen other things that had me drooling.  I'm so glad I can finally become a follower!!!  Yes, I know you had a different name for these burgers but I thought anything this good deserved your name :-)

Wendy's Wonderful Burgers


for the burgers:
1 lb ground sirloin
2 T grainy Dijon mustard
4 slices cooked, crumbled bacon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 t Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 T steak sauce (I use Andria's)
salt and pepper (I didn't use salt because of the steak sauce)

for the onions:
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 T - 1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff!!!)
1/2 c - 2/3 c white wine
2 T Worcestershire sauce

for serving:
3 kaiser rolls or onion buns
3 slices of cheese of your choice (I used a mix of cheddar and gruyere, grated)


Make the patties.  Gently combine all of the patty ingredients and form into three patties.

You can grill them or use a grill pan or saute pan.  They'll take about 10 minutes to cook so start them when you've added the liquids to the onions.  When you flip them to cook the second side, add the cheese so it's nice and melty when you serve the burgers.

Make the onions.  Saute the onions in the butter and olive oil for about 15 minutes. 

You'll want them nice and browned. 

Add the maple syrup, white wine and Worcestershire sauce. 

Cook for 8-10 minutes.  The mixture will caramelize and you'll have a lovely glaze in the pan.


Assemble the burgers.  Toast the rolls or buns.  Top each with a burger and 1/3 of the onion mixture.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I've spent the better part of the last week in Miami Beach at a conference.  Typically, when I attend a conference, I'm a stickler for attending all of the educational sessions.  That leaves precious little time for exploring unless we want to come in early or stay late.  Since the conference was at the Fontainebleau and the room rates there are astronomical, neither was a palatable choice.   There was exploring to be done.  I chose to skip a whole day of the conference and attend to exploring with my wonderful husband.  I'll do some computer based CE later and won't gripe about having to do it because we had such a wonderful time down there!

Sunday morning we got to the airport at o'dark thirty for a 6:30 am flight.  6:30 came and went.  Turns out the captain was ill and they were trying to find another one.  Most everyone on the flight was connecting to somewhere else so they were rerouted.  We stayed put and they finally found a guy to fly us down there.  So much for our day of exploring on Sunday.  We'd intended to visit the Barnacle Historic Site which is the oldest house on Biscayne Bay that's still in it's original location.  And, the Viscaya Museum.  We did manage to find the 11th Street Diner and get a very late lunch.  You've probably guessed that we found the Diner from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Triple D scores again.  We really try to avoid chains so Triple D is the best way to find great food pretty much wherever we travel.  This was wonderful food.  We split a fish sandwich and a huge basket of fried calamari with fantastic marinara sauce.  

Then, we were off to the hotel.  If you like Art Deco that's over the top, the Fontainebleau is gorgeous.  It's also ridiculously expensive.  One of my friends bought a mojito in the bar and it was something like $18.  Needless to say, we stayed at the opening reception and drank our wine and scotch on NPC's nickel!  Just a word here about that reception.  They had short ribs with a truffled mushroom sauce that were so good I just wanted to take the whole tray with me.

Monday found us at the opening session.  There had been a survey sent to all the reps asking about customer service at NPC.  (It's typically REALLY good.)  I'd filled it out and sent it in because I tend to be compliant about those types of things.  Never crossed my mind that I'd win the prize they'd dangled.  Why?  Because I never win prizes.  Well, guess what?  I won.  An Ipad.  Yup.  I have a new toy.  Can't wait to learn to use it.  Then, after the keynote speaker we went to breakout sessions.  At the first one, I won an ipod.  Should've gone out and bought a lottery ticket that day!

Once all the education was done for the day, it was time to head to Key Biscayne.  We left Miami Beach via the Venetian causeway.  It's obviously designed for the locals and does have a toll but it's worth the $1.  Have you ever seen a toll booth like this?  

Key Biscayne was stunning.  Parks at either end.  The oldest structure in Miami - a lighthouse.  Dipped our toes in the water.

Back to the hotel and time to get gussied up and head to the awards banquet.  The fellow who's the head of our producers group had had to head back home so I got to go up and accept the award for our group being #1 at NPC.  That was a lot of fun!!  We stayed out way too late.

Look how handsome my colleagues from the radio show look!

Tuesday morning we crawled out of bed in time to run downstairs and have breakfast.  Then, it was back to the room to change and go explore.  Connie had laboriously remapped our agenda so we could catch what we'd missed on Sunday.  Except that both of those sites were closed on Tuesdays.  Long faces here because Viscaya looked amazing.  But, that's all part of trying to explore when you're at a conference.  Until you get there you really don't know when you can cut out!

Once we'd explored Coconut Grove a bit we headed back to Scully's Tavern.  We found Scully's a couple of years ago thanks to Triple D.  That's when we did our Florida swing.  On our drive from West Palm Beach to Key Largo, we stopped at Scully's for dinner.  We've been talking about the escargot since then.  Scully takes mushroom caps and tucks an escargot inside each.  Then, he pours on garlic sauce.  And, tops everything with a slice of provolone.  Under the broiler it goes.  And here's what you wind up with:

I know, you tried to lick the screen, didn't you?  This time we ordered the smoked fish and a fish sandwich also.  The fish is mahi-mahi and is off the charts good.  The fish sandwich is mahi-mahi crusted with crushed potato chips.  It's very good too.  But, the best part of the fish sandwich was the tartar sauce.  Perfection.  Just the right blend of flavors.  YUM!

Time to head south to the Fruit and Spice Park.  I guess I knew how many foods there are that we just don't get here in the good old USA.  But, to see a whole park full of mostly fruit trees containing fruit that we don't ever see.  Now, that was amazing.  Our guide was a wealth of information.  We got to sample a couple of things and sniff some others.  Bay rum leaves.  Lemon bay.  Citronella.  Fascinating.

From there we headed to the Coral Castle.  We almost didn't go in because it was a bit expensive and looked pretty commercialized.  That would've been a big mistake.  Here's the story.  This Latvian guy named Ed was jilted by his fiance the day before their wedding.  He proceeded to build this castle out of coral.  Pretty much everything is made of coral.  TONS of coral.  Oh, and other than a little, teeny, tiny building in one corner it's all open air.  There are three reading chairs made of, yup you guessed it, coral. They're aligned so in the morning you sit in one and the sun is coming over your back.  Then, you move to the next during the midday and finally to another for the afternoon sun over your back.  Let me tell you, these chairs are comfortable.  Seriously.  A chair made of stone and it's comfortable.  

Then, there's a well with a rolling stone to cover the stairs down.  And, a couple of gates.  And, a barbecue.  If you're ever in the Miami area this is a must see.  I could go on for an hour about how incredible this place was.

Back to the hotel and dinner with some friends and a wholesaler and his wife.  We had a lovely dinner and great time!

Wednesday was more education.  The mandatory compliance meeting at 11:00 followed by the wrap-up comments from NPC's president.  Then, all the home office break out sessions.  We really wanted to cut out and go play some more but there was a session for OSJ managers (that's office of supervisory jurisdiction for those not in the industry) and since I'm an OSJ manager I figured I'd better get my tookus there.  And, from 2-3 I was on a panel with a group of the gals from the Women's Conference.  I met some of the most amazing women at that conference.  Can't wait for the next one in September!  Finally business was done and we had time to head to Deerfield Beach for dinner.  We snagged our friend, Helene, to join us on the adventure.  Off to Whale's Rib - another Triple D restaurant.  And, another homerun.  The lobster bisque was the closest we've had to our friend Kathy's at Aesop's here in Indy.  Then, there were fried clams and a raw plate with clams and oysters in various and sundry guises.  Helene had coconut shrimp that she thoroughly enjoyed.  And, on the way, we stopped by a beach and enjoyed the view!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gracie Allen's Roast Beef

I just got an email that has to be shared with all of you.  Now, for those of you who don't know, my two eldest cats are named George and Gracie.  Not only was my grandfather's name George but I think George Burns was one of the funniest men I've ever heard in my life.  Ergo the names.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  Here's the text of the message from my friend Judy:

Gracie Allen:  She was and this recipe is...priceless!

I'm only sending this to people who remember who Gracie Allen

was and to some who can simply appreciate a good recipe.

Gracie Allen's Classic Recipe for Roast Beef

1 large Roast of beef

1 small Roast of beef

Take the two roasts and put them in the oven.

When the little one burns, the big one is done.

Thanks to Judy, I've now had the best laugh I've had in weeks!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


We like The Cooking Channel and Food Network.  We often will turn the TV on and leave one of those on as the background noise.  We don't watch much else on TV except sports and the occasional HGTV.  One of our favorite programs happens to be Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Now, that we'll sit down and actually watch.

We're not exactly Guy Fieri groupies, but we have hit a few places he has visited and he has been pretty much spot on.  We've been to Hodad's in Ocean Beach, CA, Scully's Tavern in Miami, and The Taco Bus in Tampa.  I have also been to Zest in Indianapolis and Triple X in Lafayette, IN.  We just love local places (rather than chains) and Guy manages to find some off the wall (or as he says, off the hook) places and we have found it fun to take his recommendations and visit.

About a week ago, (before the flu!) we got to go to Zydeco's in Mooresville IN.  We went to meet with two friends who live there.  I have heard about Zydeco's as it has been written up in the Indianapolis press and I love, love, love authentic Cajun food.  Connie looked them up online and, what do you know, Guy had them on the show just last October.  That settled it.

In an old building on Main Street in Mooresville, there is this absolutely wild restaurant.  Connie called for reservations and the friendly and amusing person  and who took the call portended how the evening would proceed.  My guess is that because of Connie's accent (or, as we say, the fact that he doesn't talk nomal - minus the r) she thought she had some Super Bowl visitors on her hands.  The atmosphere is very casual, the service (from Amanda) was superb and the menu delightful.

We ordered much more food than we should have attempted to eat, mostly because Amanda suggested that we sample off the starter menu.  Connie locked in on the BBQ Shrimp with Tasso.  Tasso is smoked pork with a great coating or rub.  We also ordered Half and Half, a combination of Gumbo and Jambalaya, Garlic Soup, a Muff Wedge (wedge of lettuce with a muffaletta dressing) and Blonde Jolie Pasta.  WOW!  Our dining partners had Poached Catfish smothered in Crawfish and Maque Choux, a corn chowder - along with some duplicates of dishes we sampled.

Everyone shared in the BBQ Shrimp and it was the hit of the night for Connie.  He was sopping up the sauce it came in with the fresh bread they provided.  Surprisingly, the Muff Wedge came in second with Connie and first with me.  It was fabulous!  Little teeny onions, black and green olives, yummy!  And again surprisingly, because neither one of us think much of iceberg lettuce.  The pasta was delicious, however I concentrated on the other stuff and most of my half came home with me.

I think regular readers know this, but Connie and I split everything.  We look at a menu, pick two or three things we would like to try, and agree on what to order, so we can each taste, or more correctly, eat half of each order.  Tonight we got a little carried away because the menu looked so wonderful.  It did not disappoint.  I loved the Garlic Soup although this was not Connie's favorite.

One last thing.  The decor is, well, garish comes to mind.  It is an old, old building with impossibly high ceilings and New Orleans stuff everywhere.  Beads wrap the silverware/napkin setting (I am still wearing mine as I type).  Blinking lights, a swordfish over our heads and relentless reminders of the Saints and LSU Tigers.  All that detracts nothing from the food or the delightful people we met, including chef Carter Hutchinson, who signed a copy of a cookbook I bought there (shocking, as Connie would say).

Anyway, for those of you here in the good old state of Indiana, head to Mooresville and visit Zydeco's.  For those of you who haven't had the opportunity, trust Guy, he keeps finding places we love to visit and Zydeco's is one of them.

The Flu

One of the worst things about being a foodie and having the flu is that the list of dining possibilities goes from virtually unlimited to umm, about nil.  Last week I was really, really tired.  Like, bone tired.  I attributed it to working too hard.  There were twice as many appointments on my calendar as there would be in a perfect world.  That can be attributed to the fact that Amber's back and is getting my scheduling caught up.  She was my admin for several years and is as close to perfect as they come.  She's going back to school three days a week for a year and is working for me three days a week.  Her predecessor is truly a delightful human being but was in totally the wrong job for her skill set.  'Nuff said. We'd been invited to Columbus to spend a weekend with the grandkids.  And, we're down to basically one car.  After six months of discussion, we've finally determined what we want to do about another car but we probably won't find the time to go do it until after tax day.  You see, it came down to the fact that I love my car and want another one just like it but newer if Connie takes mine.  But, the back seat doesn't lay down which makes hauling things virtually impossible.  Ergo, that plan doesn't work.  And, now that the power steering is gone in Connie's car we've got to quit dithering and get it done.  Don't you love all these major decisions?  Ugh, me neither.  Alright.  That pretty much sets the stage.  I had to much to do to be able to take two days off and I had no way to get back and forth from the office.  Therefore, I needed to pack up a storage box and four briefcases of work and schlep them home.  Done. 

Saturday I thought I'd plow through a bunch of appointment prep and half of the 400 or so emails gracing my inbox.  I was on slow motion.  Everything ached.  Sunday was worse.  I slept in then took a couple hour long nap.  Connie got home at 4:00 and I went to bed for good.  Got to see the last 57 seconds of the Super Bowl.  I guess that was the part that really counted anyway!  I must say here, that I am SO proud of Indianapolis!!  Let's just leave it that I slept 32 of the 48 hours from Sunday at 4 to Tuesday at 4:00.  Then, I was right back in bed Tuesday evening...  Along the way I was very grateful for the containers of homemade chicken stock in my freezer.  Connie headed to the grocery and got honey greek yogurt and bananas and ginger ale. 

Which brings me to the point of all of this.  One, I've totally neglected my blog.  And, two, aren't we lucky that we have all of the food choices we have?  Look at the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables we can pick up at the groceryIt's absolutely amazing how the choices have changed since I was a kid.